Shouldn’t Ex-Communists Be Held Accountable?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
Recently, when an United Nations affiliated international tribunal convicted former Serbian General Ratko Mladic of genocide and sentenced him to life in prison, the New York Times commented with obvious glee: “No crime against humanity, no matter how long ago it occurred, should be immune to cries for justice.”
If that’s the case, how come there are no international tribunals putting ex-Communists on trial? Why is it that men like Mladic can be held accountable and not the leaders of China and the former Soviet Union? Over recent years, several ex-Nazi corporals have been hunted down, tried, and convicted of having a role in hounding and killing Jews during World War II. But putting ex-Communists on trial hasn’t happened and there surely are plenty still alive.
Twenty years ago, Europeans who lived under Communist rule published The Black Book of Communism. A review of the murder, imprisonment, and brutality inflicted on people who resided in what were termed “the captive nations.” The book points to a staggering total of 94 million deaths at the hands of Communist rulers. Many of these instances of brutality occurred during the very time period that Nazis were rounding up and killing Jews. But only ex-Nazis are prosecuted.
Stephane Courtois, the Black Book’s editor, claims 65 million victims of Communism met death in China and close to 20 million perished in the former Soviet Union. He noted that Communist regimes are responsible for far more deaths “than any other political ideal or movement, including Nazism.” These deaths did not result from war. Communists deliberately killed millions through organized programs involving executions, man-created starvation, forced labor, and more. A major reason for the bloody rampages was the terror forced on those who remained in silence and became totally unwilling to oppose their oppressors.
On July 16, 1971, the 92nd Congress of the United States published a 33-page document entitled “The Human Cost of Soviet Communism.” Issued by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, the report relied on the work of the highly regarded British historian Robert Conquest for its statistics. Conquest concluded that the number of deaths caused by Soviet authorities in Russia and other captive nations numbered 45 million. While many of these victims of Soviet terror met death in the first half of the 20th Century, millions perished at the hands of still-living Communist leaders and their subordinates.
Similarly, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee published “The Human Cost of Communism in China” on July 29, 1971. It concluded that China’s leaders had ordered the slaughter of at least 34 million and possibly as many as 64 million innocent persons. A huge portion of these victims were slain during the reign of Mao Tse-tung. Many who carried out his death-mandating orders are alive today. And so are those who suppressed the student revolt at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square almost 30 years ago.
Why haven’t current leaders in China been prosecuted? Many played a role in China’s murderous past. The same question needs to be asked about Soviet leaders such as Mikhail Gorbachev, a lifelong Communist who has never renounced Communism and, instead of being held accountable for his crimes, is given the privilege of addressing the U.S. Congress and being treated as if he were a reliable ally.
If Communists who are guilty of high crimes aren’t held accountable (ostracism at least would certainly be in order), the reason can only be that they are winning. Winning what? Winning control over mankind under the name of “socialism” rather than under the banner of “communism.” Gorbachev has written of his insistence that he will never cease being a Communist. He should be held accountable for his role in enforcing Communist rule with death-dealing gulags, crackdowns on dissenters, and creating terror throughout his nation and others where Soviet forces ruled for decades.
In 2007, a Victims of Communism Memorial statue was erected in Washington, DC. That’s a welcome gesture, but more is needed. Punishing ex-Nazis who are virtual nobodies and ignoring the crimes of many high-ranking Communists is hypocrisy gone wild. It surely does indicate who is winning in the battle that pits freedom under just law against dictatorial slavery.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.